Canadian Mennonite University

Business co-op program gives alumna head start in career

Kayla Yanke Kayla Yanke

Kayla Yanke (CMU '18) was one of the first students to graduate with CMU's Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Co-op degree, majoring in Accounting. After walking across the convocation stage in cap and gown, she was ready to join the workforce.

But just five months later, she suddenly faced being uprooted from the network she had established when she and her husband had to move across the country from Winnipeg, MB to Victoria, BC for his job in the military.

Luckily, her hard work throughout the BBA co-op program ensured she got a secure job not only shortly after graduating, but also three provinces away. After doing her co-op placement at KPMG Winnipeg, one of the "Big Four" international accounting organizations, the firm offered her a full-time position. With those connections, she got a job at KPMG Victoria as Senior Accountant in Audit.

"I'd recommend that [accounting students] do the co-op program with CMU because it's so much easier to get your foot in the door with a large accounting firm..." Yanke says. "It also helped me understand my courses when I went back to school because I had some practical experience, and then it makes it that much easier to go get a job after."

Yanke started studying business because her uncle was a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and she admired his career and the opportunities it gave him to travel and support his family. "Then once I got into the courses, I just really enjoyed the challenge and the puzzle that specifically accounting is," she says.

She looked into several different universities, but once she visited CMU, she knew it was the right choice for her. "They were really helpful with laying everything out, giving me my schedule, and offering me a scholarship...and it was less intimidating being an 18 year-old and not knowing what university was going to entail, coming to a smaller university with smaller class sizes and knowing that I wasn't just going to be a number, that my professors would get to know me."

Yanke did two co-op placements in accounting—one with Argus Industries, an elastomeric products manufacturing company, and the other with KPMG, a financial audit, tax, and advisory services firm. She knows several students for whom the co-op program became too expensive, but for her the program was worth it because of the difference it is making in her career.

"Being able to complete my degree with the co-op experience allowed me to gain 15 credible months towards my CPA designation that I'm going for now," she says. One requirement to getting a CPA designation is 30 months of approved work experience. Having already completed half of those months means that once she writes the CPA designation exam this September, Yanke will be able to get her letters behind her name more quickly. She's looking forward to advancing her career, and hopefully one day leading a company.

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